Under the Covers
I was impressed with the physical construction of the NSA-2400. It is built similar to a small desktop computer—well assembled, with clean straight lines and nicely fitting parts. ZyXEL uses a steel case with slide off panels on each side. The front has a door that swings open to reveal the drive bays. The bays slide in and out of the NSA-2400 chassis smoothly, and click into place solidly. A security weakness, though, is that neither the door nor the drive bays have locking mechanisms. Figure 24 below shows the front and the four drive bays.
Figure 24: Front view, showing four drive bays
Inside the case lies a VIA Motherboard and VIA C3 (Nehemiah) 1.3 GHZ CPU with a single 128 MB stick of DDR333 RAM. There is a CPU fan and two case exhaust fans, but they run pretty quietly. There is no power supply inside the case, as it uses an external power brick. The absence of an internal power supply along with the two case fans provides good airflow inside the case, keeping things cool. The internal drives are formatted using XFS.
Figure 25 below is a shot looking into the case with the drives removed. The disk drive frame, which is part of the chassis, obscures the view of the motherboard. As mentioned, the construction is pretty solid and there is ample space within the case, but removing the motherboard is not feasible. There isn't much to investigate. It's a VIA board, chipset and CPU with a SATA controller. The visible red cables are the SATA cables connecting to the back of the drive bays.
Figure 25: Internal view of the motherboard
Pricing and Conclusion
Without disks, the NSA-2400 can be found online for about $710. This makes the NSA-2400 more expensive than other gigabit four-drive RAID 5-capable devices we've recently reviewed, including the Iomega StorCenter Pro 150d ($590) and the Buffalo TeraStation Pro II ($675), both of which include four 250GB drives. Even the BYOD Synology CS407 comes in lower at $663.
The lack of jumbo frame support—a feature that should be standard for an business-focused NAS in this price range—is a concern. I also would have liked additional administration options such as SNMP and syslog capability. Finally, the NSA-2400 should be able to be backed up to any networked share, in addition to the attached-drive and other NSA-2400 options.
On the plus side, the ZyXEL looks and feels like a solid device, with its mostly-metal construction. Installation is a breeze and its well-organized and functional menus make it easy to use. The bundled software made creating backups from a PC to the device easy, and I was impressed with its APC UPS shutdown synchronization support. Finally, RAID 10 support is a differentiator for the NSA-2400, an option not provided by several of its competitors.
ZyXEL is new to the NAS market, which could be a concern for some buyers. Moreover, as a new entrant, it is surprising to see ZyXEL come to market at a premium price. All things considered, however, the device's performance levels, quality, and ease of use left me with a positive overall impression of the NSA-2400.